This recipe for sweet heat squash pickles has the perfect mixture of sweet, tangy and a touch of heat. Pile them on top of a burger, heap them on a sandwich or just eat them straight out of the jar!
As you may have noticed this month, I’m on a squash roll. Squash is growing in abundance this time of year, and people are trying to figure out what in the world they’re going to do with all of their squash besides chop it up and put it in a casserole. Aside from the flavor, I absolutely love yellow squash because of how versatile it is. It’s good savory, sweet, cheesy, spicy, grilled, fried, you name it – it’s good prepared that way!
I’ve mentioned before my obsession with old church cook books. I have several that I love to read for fun, and I always walk away from them feeling inspired to try something new. In my opinion, the older the cook book, the better. You won’t find a wide variety of ingredients or spices used in those recipes typically, and it’s because the women of that time were using up things they had on hand or things they grew themselves. Many of the ladies that contributed to those cookbooks were products of the great depression, and their cooking styles reflected their lack of modern conveniences. You can learn a lot from their style of cooking, plus gain a whole lot of respect for these women who were able to put food on their tables without a whole lot to work with.
Needless to say, I stumbled upon a recipe for “squash pickles” that I had apparently dog-eared a long time ago to try. I know the concept of a squash pickle isn’t new, but it was certainly new to me. I had never in my life had a squash pickle, but the idea was really exciting to me! Just like cucumbers, squash are also members of the cucurbit family. Pickling the sliced squash tasted very much like a pickled cucumber, but I think that since squash as a much more mild flavor than a cucumber, the sweetness and the heat of the peppers really absorbed into the squash, giving it the perfect pickle-y flavor without any of the bitter. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit, adding a little more “oomph” here and there, but the base of the recipe is still the same. I love those old trusty cookbooks!
I used my trusty Tupperware mandoline slicer to cut up the squash quickly. I wanted these to have the “crinkle cut” look. If you don’t have a mandoline on hand, no worries! Just slice carefully with a knife, making sure to cut each piece about 1/4 inch thick. I went a little smaller than that in my first batch and they were a bit too thin in my opinion.
Here are my top picks on Amazon for making these Sweet Heat Squash Pickles:
When adding peppers for heat in this recipe, you can go as hot or as mild as you’d like. I had two jalapeno peppers that had already turned red sitting on my counter, so I seeded them, diced them and threw them in. I wish I had added another pepper or two to this batch, because it could’ve used more heat in my opinion. Peppers can be so finicky, as you never really know how hot they’re going to be. I’d recommend starting out conservatively with the peppers if you’re sensitive to heat.
Here’s a free printable copy of the recipe if you’d like to give it a try!
- 3 small yellow summer squash, cut into ¼ inch thick slices (about 3 cups worth)
- ½ small sweet onion, cut into thin slices
- 2-3 small jalapenos, seeded and chopped (add more if you like more heat)
- 1 Tbs salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- ¾ tsp mustard seeds
- ¾ tsp celery seeds
- ¼ tsp ground mustard
- In a large bowl, combine sliced squash, onion and peppers.
- Sprinkle salt over squash mixture and stir gently to coat
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, then drain off excess water
- In a large pot, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and ground mustard.
- Bring mixture to a boil, making sure sugar is completely dissolved
- Pour in squash mixture and bring it back to a boil, then remove from heat.
- Ladle hot squash, onions and peppers into a sterilized quart canning jar.
- Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then seal.
- For best results, refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Using 2 jalapeno peppers gave off a very mild heat. If you want the heat to pop through, I recommend using more peppers - just make sure you seed them first!
These sweet heat squash pickles are amazing on top of hamburgers, sandwiches, or on a fork right out of the jar. I also think they’d be really good on field peas as a relish!
Heads up: You can also make this same recipe using zucchini! Click here for my Sweet Heat Zucchini Pickles Recipe!
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out these other great recipes found right here on Southern Made Simple!
And don’t forget: If you have more squash than you know what to do with, you can always freeze it!